July 13, 2016 - 11:52 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, July 12 approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs (SFOPS) Appropriations Bill, which covers assistance to Armenia and the region, the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly) reported.
Similar to Fiscal Year 2016, this year's Committee report did not delineate funding levels for the South Caucasus generally, however, the Senate approved version provided $24.1 million in non-military assistance to Armenia as well as called for continued aid to Nagorno Karabakh.
"As Congress finalizes the House and Senate Appropriations Bills, the Armenian Assembly will continue to push for additional assistance to help Armenia cope with the influx of refugees fleeing from violence in Syria, as well as for much needed humanitarian assistance to help Nagorno Karabakh rebuild after the April war launched by Azerbaijan," Assembly Executive Director Bryan Ardouny stated.
Earlier this year, 33 Members sent a letter to the House Appropriations Committee outlining funding and policy issues for the region. Ardouny, in testimony submitted to the Committee, outlined nine key policy priorities for the Armenian American community, including assistance to Christian Armenians in the Middle East, the majority of whom are descendants of survivors of the Armenian Genocide.
Also, the SFOPS Report highlighted the need for additional assistance to "vulnerable populations in Syria and in neighboring countries," comprised of Syrian refugees, Christians, and other minorities afflicted by the Syrian civil war and persecuted by the Islamic State (ISIS). According to the bill, funds "shall be made available for programs in countries affected by significant populations of internally displaced persons or refugees."